Wedding planning – ah!! What can I say? I can’t speak for the entire world, but if I could, I think I’d say that collectively we’re so sick and tired of being in quarantine and pausing our living indefinitely since we don’t know when all of this COVID-19 business is going to end. It’s been heartbreaking to witness so many of our couples reschedule their weddings and to be completely honest, it completely soured the experience of wedding planning for us so far too (at least for the time being). Not to mention the financial devastation my business has experienced during all this, too. With every phone call and email I exchanged with couples and their planners, our family and friends, and with industry peers, the deeper I sank into a depressed state – mourning so many happy moments that were indefinitely postponed. Personal memories, business growth, friends’ weddings, trips, funerals, date nights: you name it.
Right before all this started, you might remember that Nikhil and I got engaged (YAY!!!!), then within 8 weeks of that (just when we were mentally ready to start planning): BOOM. Daily life was cancelled. We were left in this weird fog of damage control and if I’m being REALLY real, every day I got out of bed was treated as a win. Now that we’ve found our “new normal,” (whatever that is), we’ve been slowly picking up the pieces and slowly making progress on planning our big day. Some of it’s made me so happy and some of it’s been been hard to manage.
We’ve gotten a lot of questions on the where, when and how’s of how we plan to celebrate #DeshVaughnDay (Vaughn mixed with Deshpande!), so I wanted to share what we have done (while skipping over all the parts we haven’t done – haha)! My hope is that this gives you permission to either A) keep planning your own wedding or B) at least gives you a glimmer of hope that life is continue to go on!
Where we’re at with wedding planning so far:
We spent the first chunk of this year operating under the assumption we were going to get married in the Bay Area and had even landed on a venue (hint: it was one of these venues!) and a planner, but when it came down to it – our budget was only going to be able to cover one single event with a small guest count (it’s no secret that getting married in the Bay Area is expensive). When in reality, we needed to have two ceremonies – one American ceremony and one Indian ceremony (and related traditions).
It was weighing heavy on our hearts only being able to invite our immediate families and our wedding parties to just one ceremony (especially because Nikhil is culturally Indian and extremely close to his extended family too!), not to mention all the expenses we’d be putting on our guests to come allllllll the way to the west coast when the majority of them are based in the South and Northeast.
In a moment of clarity, I remembered that my hometown of Austin had a venue just like the one we loved in San Francisco. It had subconsciously been in the back of my mind, but once we started talking through what a wedding in Austin would look like for us, it made perfect sense. Austin is my hometown, my best friends live there, the culture is very much our vibe, the food is incredible AND the cost of weddings there would allow us to have both Indian AND American ceremonies, while ALSO being able to invite Nik’s whole family and a few more important friends.
That being said, we officially booked our venue for both days: One Eleven East, just east of Austin and 20 minutes from where I was born! Talk about full-circle. We love everything about this venue (not to mention I’ve photographed some of my favorite work EVER there): the white industrial modern loft, the minimalistic vibes, the natural light, the indoor ceremony space, the built-in bar, the cocktail hour patio, the bridal suite…SWOON. It’s going to be PERFECT for all the color and midcentury vibes we plan to bring into the space!
Mid-October 2021! YAY! Knowing weddings are an expensive endeavor, we always planned for a 2021 celebration so we’d have time to save up and put on the type of event we knew we wanted. Once we decided on central Texas as the location, we knew there were only a few months it was going to be comfortable to host a wedding (especially for our NY/NJ relatives who aren’t used to the heat and for me being the sweaty human I am). October has always been a meaningful month to me – I’ve always loved fall and I was born in late October, not to mention it’s always felt like the beginning of something new season-wise.
We’re keeping it INTIMATE, y’all. Like 80 people maxmaxmax (I wanted even smaller than that (40-50 people), but that was the smallest we could narrow things down. (See why I’m such a fan of intimate weddings here!) That basically includes just my immediate family, Nik’s immediate + extended, our wedding party and a handful of other super special friends. If you know anything about weddings, you know that the more guests you have = the more you spend. And even though getting married in Texas is more affordable than the Bay Area, I’m still just a wedding vendor – haha! We can only afford so many guests without sacrificing on things that were truly important to me (like photography, florals, etc.) Nikhil are also fairly private people friends-wise and we HATE (H-A-T-E) being the center of attention, making a smaller wedding kind of a “no duh!” decision. I feel extremely fortunate that Nikhil and I have always been on the same page with this and have had super supportive families.
Funny enough, most of our friends that will be in attendance are also in our wedding party: I have six bridesmaids + Nikhil has six groomsmen and we’re sharing our BFF Sam (who introduced us) on both sides of the wedding party since he will be our officiant.
Can I also just say this will be the first time my full immediate family is together in one place?! Like EVER?! I have a huge blended immediate family and I legit have siblings who have never met. I’m going to cherish those photos together so much, I know I will cry every time I look at them.
We obviously don’t have a ton developed on the design side of things yet, but we do have a general concept and ideas about what we’d like the day to look like.
Overall: we really wanted something FUN (like as fun as you can possibly imagine), modern, quirky, colorful, classy, intentional and filled with unique experiences. We also want the Indian wedding + American wedding to feel cohesive both in design, colors and overall vibe. To blend together who Nikhil and I are as people, we settled on a modern art museum vibe with touches of late 60s flair.
We’re blending together various shades of pink (!!!), orange, marigold and turquoise to create something really beautiful and unique. After witness so many weddings with neutrals and mute color palettes, I always knew I wanted to do something a little out of the box! Ashley of Much Ado Austin, our wedding planner (and one of my favorite people in the whole world who I’ve known for years), deserves so much credit here, because we were truly struggling to come up with something that feels like BOTH of us and she nailed it right on the head.
We’re having two ceremonies on two different days — the first being an Indian ceremony and welcome dinner (instead of a rehearsal dinner), followed by the American ceremony and a “traditional” American receptions – lots of tasty food, dancing, good music and cocktails. We’re not following every Indian wedding tradition, but during the days before the Indian ceremony, I’m hoping me and my future mother-in-law will be able to collaborate on a mehndi (henna) ceremony for the families and my wedding party. This is a tradition I’ve loved since my first (and favorite) Indian wedding and I’m so excited to have mehndi of my own again! We’re also planning to have a “down day” between ceremonies for everyone to enjoy Austin and to do their own thing while we soak up time with all of our loved ones. Maybe a brunch or spa day?!
OUR VENDORS SO FAR
This by far is one of MY FAVORITEEEE things to talk about. A) Because I LOVE my wedding vendor “friendors” and am SO stinkin’ excited to support their small businesses B) We have a DYNAMITE team and they’re going to exceed all our expectations C) I’m finally getting a chance to put my money where my mouth is after years of preaching to invest in quality vendors (like photography)!
So far, we’ve chosen:
venue: One Eleven East – (who I already swooned over above). Erika and her venue manager Ashley and I have talked many times over the years and I’ve always loved working at this national historically-recognized space that was built in 1893. The “blank space” factor was huge for us, allowing us to infuse our own personalities and color into the day.
planner: Ashley of Much Ado Austin – one of the most talented, reasonable, creative and beautiful people I’ve ever known. Ashley and I have worked together as peers for clients and for personal projects, we met years ago for coffee (2017 or 2018 I think) and ever since then, I’ve admired this lady so much. We’re so lucky to get to work with her.
photographer: Katelyn James Photography – Katelyn is my role model and the photographer I look up most to in this world — one of the prime reasons I am the photographer I am today. She’s also one of the most generous, wonderful people I’ve ever had the pleasure of talking to. This was the most exciting hire for me as a photographer myself and what sold me most on her is how implicitly I trust her to flatter us well on camera, treat my large family compassionately and overall help elevate the overall look of our day (since it certainly won’t be a $100K shindig).
florist: Blumen Floral – Abbie and I have worked together for years (and I photographed one of her first ever weddings back in 2017!) and I just LOVE her. Besides being friends, she is also just supremely talented. There wasn’t ever really a choice when it came down to it.
deejay: DJ Gatsby – I left music completely in Nikhil’s court as the audio engineer since he left photography completely to me, though I will say I could not put up a fight because Jon of DJ Gatsby is one of the best DJ’s I’ve ever witnessed, not to mention an all-around stand up guys who hails from the Northeast, just like Nik. It was so fun seeing him and Nikhil bond over music and to hear Nikhil’s voice during this planning process.
american wedding officiant: Our BFF Sam!!!! If you read our proposal story, you know that Nikhil and I were accidentally introduced by college bestie Sam after he went off to grad school to get his PhD. We felt like it made the most sense to have him introduce us into our marriage (haha!) too. 🙂 He means so much to both of us, I couldn’t imagine someone we didn’t know officiating our ceremony.
That’s it for us right now! As we continue to plan, I’ll look for little nuggets worth sharing with you, too!